Apply Now: Mark C. Ackelson Fellowship

Do you have a heart for activism as well as for Iowa’s land, water, wildlife and people? Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is looking for a dedicated conservationist to work with us on a temporary assignment to promote increased, reliable, consistent state funding for Iowa conservation.

The goal
INHF is part of a statewide coalition working together to secure legislative approval for funding of the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. This Trust Fund was established through an amendment to the Iowa Constitution, and it will be funded the next time the Iowa sales tax is increased. If successful, these efforts will direct an estimated $180 million annually toward natural resource needs including clean water, healthy productive soils, abundant wildlife and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities throughout Iowa.

This fellowship offers amazing networking opportunities with Iowa conservation leaders through the Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy Coalition. The Ackelson Fellow will gain experience in grassroots and field advocacy as well as outreach to well-connected conservationists, and will be helping to shape strategies for legislative action. The Fellow will travel within Iowa, report to the INHF president, and work closely with the INHF policy director, communications staff and other INHF staff.

Position responsibilities
The Fellow will work with staff and coalition members to help develop and implement the strategy to get the sales tax increase and the Trust Fund funded. They will help organize, educate, empower and mobilize supporters to take action in support of our goal. List-building, outreach, volunteer recruitment, canvassing by phone or door-to-door and online networking may all be part of this position at different points in the campaign. Successful candidates will have excellent verbal and written communication skills and strong interpersonal skills in order to communicate with and engage differing stakeholder groups.

The ideal candidate

Will have demonstrated success in coordinating political and/or community campaigns and building strategic coalitions to influence public policy; possesses the ability to work independently and execute statewide political/community programs; acts with high integrity and professionalism; is detail oriented; is able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and is willing and able to work nights or weekends on occasion.

This full-time fellowship will be active between November 2016 (post-election) and May 2017 with some flexibility in start/end dates. Monthly stipend and travel expenses are provided. Benefits are not included in this temporary position.

To apply
Deadline: October, 17, 2016. Please send cover letter and resume to Marian Riggs, INHF policy director, at Questions can be directed to Marian Riggs at 515-288-1846, ext. 26.

Meet Abby Terpstra, INHF’s new Development Specialist


INHF is happy to introduce our newest staff member, Abby Hade Terpstra. Abby has been working as our development specialist for a little over a month now, and we’re so glad to have her as part of the INHF family!

Abby grew up in Ames, Iowa, then headed to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. She graduated with a B.S. in Outdoor Education: Natural History.

Abby spent the next 12 years exploring a number of different jobs in a number of different cities. She’s worked at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, acted as the Membership Coordinator for Sustainable Connections in Washington state and even traveled to New Zealand for three months.

After jumping from state to state, Abby decided to return home. She now lives in Ames with her husband and two young kids.

Since coming back to Iowa, Abby has found a new home at INHF. “I love the long term thinking at INHF and the focus on permanent protection,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know conservation-minded landowners. It gives me hope.”

Celebrate the Magic of Turin Prairie

Landscape View

You sit among the grasses and flowers on the steep slope, with the encompassing blue sky around and above and in places, even below you. Your gaze slides down the graceful multi-textured hillsides, then dances over the treetops huddled in the valleys. Across the flatlands below and beyond the hills, you can sense the Missouri River and Nebraska on the vague horizon. The sun and breeze caress you. Birdsong beckons amid the hush. You are immersed in nature, not focused on yourself, glad to be a small part of a vast and complex wholeness. That’s a sweet moment at Turin Prairie.

It’s time to celebrate the magic of this place, the joy of its permanence and the trust and dogged determination required to protect it. And, to pause to appreciate all the people involved in protecting Turin Prairie. Every member of Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation had a hand in this, and nearly 1,000 people reading this magazine gave specifically to protect Turin Prairie.

Turin Prairie’s numbers are impressive: hundreds of acres, $2 million, four years in the making. But Turin Prairie’s story is more about heart than numbers. Continue reading

6 ways funding the Trust will benefit Iowans

In 2010, a majority of voters created the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a permanent and constitutionally protected funding source that will ensure Iowa’s natural areas are protected and preserved for future generations. The Trust will be funded once the Iowa legislature raises the sales tax by at least 3/8 of a cent.

Here are 6 ways funding the trust will directly benefit Iowans. Continue reading

WORKSHOP: Feeding zoo animals with invasive species

servletJoin Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Trees Forever and other partners for an exciting classroom/hands-on training focused on identifying and removing invasive woodland plants. Volunteers will participate in “upcycling” the invasive plants to be used as food for animals at Blank Park Zoo. Your help is needed to remove these forest invaders and feed the zoo animals! Note: We will not directly feed zoo animals, but pull the plants that will go to the zoo.

Invasive species of Iowa workshop. We will learn how to remove invasives.

Thursday, June 9th from 5:30 – 8: 30 p.m.

Jay Spence Shelter House. This is “up the hill” from Greenwood/Ashworth Park.

No experience necessary. A light dinner is included in your sign-up cost of $10. We will go outside for part of the class to remove invasive plants, so please wear long sleeves, long pants and closed-toe shoes. Bring a refillable water bottle!

For more information or to register, click here.

A Great Place Made Better

How much can 15 people accomplish on 175 acres in under two hours?

A lot, it turns out.

I was amazed at the giant oak and maple and sycamore trees!

I was amazed at the giant oak, maple and sycamore trees!

On Tuesday evening, April 26, volunteers from Kohls, Outdoor Alliance of Story County and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation joined Story County Conservation to improve a site just south of Ames that’s destined to become the Ronald “Dick” Jordan Family Wildlife Area.

So this was our chance to experience the natural land where the Skunk River used to flow.

It’s not open to the public yet: INHF will transfer it to Story County after funds are raised to cover its purchase and restoration.

Some of us cut invasive plant species: mostly honeysuckle and multi-flora rose. Compared to many Iowa woodlands, there wasn’t much to cut. It felt good knowing we were keeping them from spreading and shading out the wildflowers – like the Sweet William that was in bloom all around us.

Here’s how we looked: before, during, and after attacking the multi-flora rose:


Meanwhile, volunteers were removing the tires and scrap metal that dotted the area – many of which had been left behind by floodwaters over time or illegally dumped.

Jordan - heavy metal crew

Jordan - tire crew

In just two hours, Team Heavy Metal and Team Burnt Rubber hauled out a full truck of tires and a full trailer of metal – nearly all the clean-up that’s needed here!



As darkness headed our way, we enjoyed a Victory Photo and went home dirtier, stronger and refreshed by our time in nature.

Jordan - crew after

UntitledI’m looking forward to my next visit – to walk where the river used to run.


Want to help the effort?

Learn more about Jordan Family Wildlife Area

Donate now to the project

Learn more about volunteering with INHF


Calendar photography submissions


Iowa is a photographer’s dream: stunning landscapes, remarkable wildlife and spectacular natural moments. Every year, INHF celebrates this beauty in a nature calendar. We love highlighting the best of what Iowa has to offer and seeing our great state through your eyes—and lens.

We are now accepting submissions for the 2017 calendar.

If you’re interested in submitting photos for consideration before the July 1 deadline, you’ll find helpful resources on our website for more information. Also make sure to review our general photo submission guidelines. Questions should be directed to Kerri Sorrell at or 515-288-1846, ext. 24.

October volunteer events recap

There’s been exciting work happening with some inspiring individuals this month. The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation frequently hosts volunteer events to clear invasive species, harvest seed for prairie restoration and many more activities. Here’s what we, and volunteers, have been up to.

Mathes Volunteer Day

Mathes Volunteer Day

On October 2 volunteers gathered in Marion County at the Mathes Property near Pella, Iowa. INHF partnered with the Iowa DNR “Keepers of the Land” Program and Central College to harvest wildflower seed and remove invasive species.

“There was little seed to collect, but the property needs love all the same,” Mary Runkel, INHF volunteer coordinator said about the Mathes Property. “It’s important to remember what the land looks like, has looked like and what it can look like again.”

Part of the seed harvest went to the Prairie Resource Center. The seeds will be used to help restore other Iowa landscapes and protected properties throughout the state.

“Anna’s Place” Volunteer Day

NREM Volunteers

On the morning of October 17, graduate students in Iowa State University’s Natural Resource and Ecology Management Department met with INHF staff for what Runkel called an “intense workday” in Boone County.

Starting the morning with some coffee by the fire at Anna’s Place, or the Garner Woodland, students later would hike along the Des Moines River Valley to remove invasive species. There were three hilltop prairies that the group had to clear for autumn olive and cedars. This event was INHF’s sixth workday with NREM graduate students.

“It was the perfect fall day,” recalls Runkel. “Three former INHF interns even came to help us out and they were able to chainsaw for us” to help with species removal.

The group also got to visit the 13 foot diameter oak tree that’s on the property. When oaks grow in the wild without anything to stop their development, they can be just as far wide as they are tall. The branches of this particular oak extend far out from the trunk, and every year the volunteers get to see its progress.

Gardner Oak Tree


Stay up to date with INHF’s volunteer events by checking our volunteer website and our upcoming events schedule.


Making history on Marietta

When settlers came to Iowa, much of the natural wonder of the land was lost to homes and crops. Today, there are few remaining untouched plots left in the state. That was in the 1800s.

The Marietta Sand Prairie State Preserve was one of those plowed landscapes, but some portions survived in their natural state. In 1983-84, a precious 17 acres of native prairie were purchased by Marshall County Conservation and then dedicated as Marietta Sand Prairie State Preserve. Then, in 2004-2006, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Marshall County Conservation led the effort to add 212 acres to Marietta Sand Prairie State Preserve — including nearly 56 acres more of sand prairie remnant. Since 2005, INHF has been working to restore and revitalize the land through countless seed harvests.

And it’s finally paid off. On Saturday, Oct. 3 upwards of forty volunteers came together for INHF’s second-largest workday of the year. INHF members, volunteers, Iowa Prairie Network board members and Marshall County Conservation board officials were all present and eager to help out.

Marietta Group

Volunteers at the Marietta Sand Prairie State Preserve

“We truly could not have been that effective without the volunteers we had that day,” Mary Runkel, INHF volunteer coordinator said.

Apple Cider

Volunteers making apple cider

Workers collected seed to build up the once-plentiful seed bank within the land. Their efforts are extremely important to conservation as INHF works toward restoring this rare remnant sand prairie.

“It’s so important to INHF that we keep the seeds local,” Runkel said. “The seeds from Marietta will stay to grow at Marietta.”

The volunteer group was treated to fresh apple cider made with an apple press on site.

The seeds from this harvest will be sowed later next year, which will mark the final planting and restoration completion. Planting this final portion at last connects the preserve with prairie remnants and completes INHF’s original vision: To preserve this rare prairie legacy, and to create an extensive interior grassland habitat for songbirds, pheasants and so many other species.



Now Hiring: Design Intern

Graphic Design Intern

We’re hiring!

Test the waters in all aspects of graphic design — INHF’s nature calendar, brochures, project mailings, event materials, website graphics, and more — with Iowa’s leading natural conservation organization.

Job description
The graphic design intern will assist the communications department with designing digital and print content for events, mailings, calendars, website graphics, and depending on interests, PR materials. The applicant must have a knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite programs.

This position usually goes to graphic design majors, journalism majors with visual design specialty or others with strong design/web experience and coursework. Video experience is also preferred, but not required. Video training is available. We’re looking for students who are:

  • Attentive to detail
  • Flexible and capable of working on multiple projects with varying deadlines
  • Comfortable working on a team
  • Organized

There is a preference for applicants who can take the position for more than one semester, but one-semester applicants are also considered. Graphic design interns work in our downtown Des Moines office and must have their own transportation to and from work. The intern should be able to work a minimum of 12 hours/week during the spring and fall semesters and 35-40 hours/week during the summer. This a paid position at $9.50/hour.

Application info
Applications for the Graphic Design internship are due Friday, Oct. 30.

To apply for the internship, please email Kerri Sorrell the following:

  • A one-page cover letter
  • Resume
  • 10-12 samples of your work (published/professional examples are ideal, but classroom work is also accepted)*
  • A copy (official or unofficial) of your transcripts

*Applicants are encouraged to send graphic design samples or links to their online work. However, we realize some graphic design projects can’t be duplicated or are too bulky to send. We assume that you will also bring your portfolio to the interview. Feel free to call or email in advance if you have questions.


Kerri Sorrell, Digital Outreach Assistant
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
505 Fifth Avenue, Suite 444
Des Moines, IA 50309-2321

Phone: 515-288-1846, ext. 24
Fax: 515-288-0137

NOTE to ISU journalism students: Because this position is generally 12-15 hours per week during the spring and fall semesters, it will not fulfill your full 400-hour requirement in just one semester. If 400 hours is important to you, you should apply for both fall and spring semesters (and/or for the summer). If in doubt about whether or not you’ll get enough hours to meet your requirements, please contact INHF staff now so we can talk through the options and let you know if we can offer enough hours to make it worth your trouble to apply.